Cablegate: Usg Humanitarian Assistance Still Needed In

DE RUEHMO #3088/01 2941308
R 201308Z OCT 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: During a recent trip to the North
Caucasus, poloff spent three days in Chechnya and two in
Ingushetiya monitoring humanitarian assistance programs
funded by the Department's Bureau for Population, Refugees
and Migration (PRM). Beneficiaries of the programs,
internally-displaced persons from the two Chechen wars and
the conflict over the Prigorodniy region in neighboring North
Ossetia, were grateful for the USG assistance, but weary of
the extreme conditions in which they lived. Although the
active phase of the conflicts ended some years ago, neither
the federal government nor the governments of Chechnya and
Ingushetiya are planning comprehensive, sustainable means to
provide for the basic needs of these beneficiaries. U.S.
assistance continues to make a meaningful contribution to
improving the lives of displaced persons in both Chechnya and
Ingushetiya. End Summary.

2. (SBU) From September 21-27, poloff visited several
programs in Chechnya and Ingushetiya sponsored by PRM to
assist internally-displaced persons. Security for the visit
was provided by the UN Department of Safety and Security
(UNDSS) contingent based in Vladikavkaz. Due to UNDSS and
GOR security regulations, travel in Chechnya was on a
pre-determined route in an armored vehicle accompanied by
Russian MVD troops in two armored UAZ jeeps, and two Chechen
traffic police cars. On September 22 poloff discussed a
shelter rehabilitation project undertaken in Ulus Kert
village in the Shatoy region of Chechnya with representatives
of the Danish Refugee Council, an FY'08 PRM implementing
partner. Shortly before the visit the local office of the
Federal Security Service (FSB) had warned against traveling
to Ulus Kert, so members of DRC's team briefed poloff in its
Groznyy office. Poloff also visited projects for shelter
rehabilitation, water/sanitation and garbage collection in
Groznyy implemented by the International Rescue Committee
(IRC). On September 23, implementing partners UNICEF and the
World Food Program (WFP) showed us a UNICEF-sponsored health
project with the Ministry of Health and school-based
psycho-social centers it set up in state-run schools. WFP
highlighted a school feeding program for first and second
graders for which PRM provided funding in FY'08 to continue
the program through December. (Note: The Chechen government
has promised to take on full responsibility for its school
feeding program for primary and secondary students in January
2009. End Note). On September 24 poloff joined the new head
of UNHCR's Regional Office for the North Caucasus in her
initial meeting with Akhmet Ismailov, Advisor on Humanitarian
Affairs to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov; visited a
temporary accommodation center in Groznyy, met with lawyers
who provide legal assistance and consultations to
internally-displaced persons in Chechnya; and stopped by a
WFP Food for Work site at a state farm along the federal
highway near the border with Ingushetiya.

3. (SBU) Travel in Ingushetiya was also in an armored
vehicle provided by UNDSS, but despite the republic's recent
volatility and high number of politically-motivated killings,
there were only two MVD soldiers with us rather than the
eight who accompanied our movements in Chechnya. Poloff
spent September 25 with representatives of implementing
partner World Vision International and observed a medical
center in the village of Sleptsovskaya, visited a pre-school
center to combat gender-based violence in the village of
Voznesenovskaya, and met with internally-displaced persons
(IDPs) in a spontaneous settlement at a former machinery
factory. On September 26 we accompanied the acting head of
International Medical Corps (IMC) to psycho-social
rehabilitation projects in Nazran and the nearby town of
Troitskaya, a water sanitation project and secondary school
sewing project in Troitskaya and a health care project at a
state-run tuberculosis hospital. We also spoke with
residents at two spontaneous settlements at which IMC has
provided street lights in order to reduce gender-based

Housing Still a Problem for Displaced Persons

4. (SBU) Years after the end of the Chechen wars and the
fighting over the Prigorodniy region of North Ossetia,
thousands of people remain without homes, living in desperate
conditions in makeshift housing in deserted government
buildings and formerly state-run factories. While there are
no official statistics on IDPs remaining from the conflicts
in Chechnya, as of August 31 UNHCR's implementing partner
Vesta LLC had registered 4,838 persons (1,028 families) at
the 20 temporary collective centers and settlements in
Chechnya. UNHCR estimates an additional 50,000 persons
remain displaced within Chechnya, residing in the private
sector, mostly with friends or relatives. According to

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UNHCR, since 2007 it has noted a gradual shift in the main
reason for not returning to Chechnya: from security concerns
and lawlessness to lack of shelter and employment prospects.
From May to August 2008, the Chechen government allocated 380
new apartments in Groznyy to people in need, some of whom
were displaced persons (276 families) who lived in temporary
accommodation centers.

5. (SBU) One of the two families with whom we spoke at a
squalid former hospital facility on Koltsovo Street (now
euphemistically referred to as "dormitories" since Chechen
President Ramzan Kadyrov declared several months ago that
Chechnya no longer had a problem with displaced persons) was
not from Groznyy, but wanted to stay in the capital rather
than return to their native village. The day we visited
residents were visibly uneasy because local authorities had
told them that morning that they had to leave the building
before nightfall. A same-day intervention by UNHCR partner
Vesta LLC staved off the eviction, and Vesta was subsequently
able to arrange for a pre-fab, box-tent accommodation to be
erected for one family in Groznyy and for the other -- a
single mother with two children -- to move to a nearby
facility while she awaits receipt of a land plot in her home
village. We do not know of the fate of the other families
who lived there. (Note: The internet-based Caucasian Knot
reported shortly after our visit that 26 families were again
served notice on September 30 to leave the facility, which
health authorities said was needed to house a children's
health clinic. According to press reports, on October 9
seven families from another temporary accommodation center
were also evicted. Vesta's representatives were quite active
on the day of our visit assisting residents of the Koltsovo
temporary accommodation center, but the fact that its
residents were similarly harassed by authorities one week
after our visit showed the need for its case workers to make
more than once monthly visits to these centers. End Note.).

6. (SBU) The situation for residents poloff visited of
spontaneous settlements in former state-owned factories in
Ingushetiya is less dire, and not only because the local
government has not served them with notice to vacate. These
settlements were cleaner and seemed more permanent, and PRM's
implementing partner IMC had recently installed street
lighting at several of them to reduce gender-based violence.
Residents' complaints, however, were the same -- neither the
federal nor the local government was doing anything to
provide them permanent housing. While some of the ethnic
Chechens told us they wanted to return to Chechnya, most of
the ethnic Ingush from Chechnya and the Prigorodniy region in
North Ossetia said they wanted to stay in Ingushetiya. They
said the Ingush government did nothing to provide them legal
permanent residency in Ingushetiya, preferring instead to
keep them at the temporary settlements where they are not
eligible for greater public assistance.

7. (SBU) While UNHCR staff said that there were a number of
federal and local programs focusing on the reconstruction and
rehabilitation of housing in Chechnya, including in rural
areas, some of these areas lack the ability to absorb
returnees and in others, security concerns, such as landmines
and armed clashes between law enforcement and insurgents,
continue to be a problem. DRC representatives briefed us on
one PRM-funded program in the village of Ulus Kert in the
Shatoy region of central Chechnya that is part of a USD
600,000 project (of which over half is for building
materials), pursuant to which DRC will reconstruct 60 houses
in Chechnya, primarily clustered in rural areas.
Beneficiaries have provided most of the labor, although DRC
has hired work crews for those beneficiaries who could not
perform the work themselves. DRC's manager for this project
told us that prices for most construction materials (cement
being the lone exception) have increased dramatically since
it started. He cited as reasons increased demand from three
sources: the construction boom in Groznyy; demand for the
2014 Winter Olympic venues going up in Sochi; and, most
recently, the rebuilding of South Ossetia after the August
2008 conflict there.

8. (SBU) Poloff also visited three small residential
reconstruction projects in Groznyy implemented by IRC. In
this program beneficiaries were provided shelter material
(bricks, doors, windows and metal roofing material) to
rehabilitate at least one warm, dry room in which they could
live while repairing the remainder of the house on their own.
All of the beneficiaries with whom we met were grateful for
the assistance, which enabled them to get back to their
ordinary lives -- grandparents tending their gardens, some
lucky parents working at odd-jobs, and children continuing
their education at nearby primary and secondary schools. In
all cases IRC worked with the Chechen government to find

MOSCOW 00003088 003 OF 004

beneficiaries who had clear title to their homes and who were
registered with the government as wishing to return to their
homes. The dollar value of actual assistance was very small
in each case, since most of the houses required only a new
tin roof and the repair of one wall.

9. (SBU) Another IRC project visited was part of the
rehabilitation of 6,000 meters of the Groznyy's city water
pipe system. Poloff's visit to the work on Zozuli Street
prompted some residents to stream out onto the unpaved,
rutted street (under the watchful glare of our armed MVD
escort) to thank the USG for providing them with clean water
directly to their homes. The neighborhood's senior
statesman, an old man wearing a traditional Chechen skullcap,
noted that thanks to the USG assistance (installing
polyethylene pipe) residents no longer needed to pay one
ruble for each pail of water formerly carried by hand one
kilometer back to their homes.

10. (SBU) PRM has funded (and jointly with ECHO, the
European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department continues to
fund) a UNICEF project to create psycho-social centers at
schools in Urus-Martan that help students cope with the
violence they have experienced as young children. Trained
school psychiatrists and social workers with whom we spoke
stressed the need for older students to become role models
for younger students. At School Number 7 in Urus-Martan
poloff also observed a WFP "Food for Education" program in
which first and second graders were provided with a meal of
hot porridge (buckwheat the day we visited) during school
hours. Their teacher, a young Chechen woman wearing the
headscarf required of all female Chechen government
employees, said that there was a noticeable improvement in
the children's academic performance due to the school feeding
program. In a September 24 meeting, Akhmed Ismailov, Advisor
on Humanitarian Assistance to Chechen President Ramzan
Kadyrov, thanked poloff for PRM's assistance in extending the
school feeding program through December. He confirmed that
the Chechen government was committed to taking over this
program beginning in January 2009 but asked poloff if the USG
could support a pilot program to feed kindergarten students
in the coming year.

11. (SBU) Poloff also met with representatives of several
implementing partners through which UNHCR also supports the
provision of legal assistance to displaced persons in
Chechnya using PRM funds. In addition to Vesta LLC,
participants included the Nizam Counseling Center and the
Chechnya office of the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights
Group. These lawyers have been quite successful in advising
displaced persons as to their legal rights to compensation,
particularly in preparing cases against the GOR at the
European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. The lawyers
said that -- so far -- they have not received any
interference from the Chechen government, but noted that
their cases are against the Russian federal government and
not against the local government.

Improving Medical Care in Ingushetiya

12. (SBU) The primary focus of PRM-funded projects we
visited in Ingushetiya was to provide improved access to
medical care for displaced persons from Chechnya and the
Prigorodniy region. Poloff visited a bustling medical center
run by WVI in the town of Sleptsovskaya outside Nazran,
located on the North Caucasus Federal Highway that connects
Ingushetiya and Chechnya. The clinic's director cited
tuberculosis and anemia as the major health problems among
the IDPs, the later caused by poor diet. The clinic provides
a wide range of medical services, including pre-natal,
pediatric and psychiatric counseling in addition to general
health care The basic laboratory conducts blood and urine
tests whose results are accepted at the local state-run
hospital if further care was required. The clinic
distributes medicine, although during our visit it had
temporarily discontinued dispensing while it waited for
renewal of its registration with Ingushetiya's Ministry of
Health. During this period, patients were receiving free
medicine from the program at the pharmacy at a state-run
medical facility pursuant to a special agreement between the
clinic and the medical facility. The director of the clinic
told us that it does not deny medical care to anyone who asks
for it, although over 70 percent of its patients are people
displaced from either Chechnya or Prigorodniy. The clinic's
proximity to Chechnya also meant that some nearby residents
from there came to take advantage of the free medical care it

13. (SBU) PRM implementing partner IMC also runs a smaller

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clinic several kilometers away at a nearby spontaneous
settlement in Sleptsovskaya. Some of the patients at the
IMC-sponsored clinic said they come for medical care at least
once a month. IMC also provided assistance to Ingushetiya's
tuberculosis hospital in Troitskaya, a picturesque former
Cossack town outside Nazran where several members of one the
town's remaining ethnic Russian families were notoriously
murdered in July 2007. While the hospital is open to anyone
residing in Ingushetiya, a large number of patients are the
children of displaced persons. The IMC assistance included
improvements to the laboratory, repairing the water supply,
creating a "child friendly space" for younger patients and
upgrading the hospital's kitchen. The head of the hospital
was greatly appreciative of USG support, which she contrasted
with the recent inspection by Ingushetiya government
officials who levied a fine against the hospital for having
old fire extinguishers (which, she asserted, were still
functional). Before we left she asked for additional
assistance to fund much-needed repairs to the toilets and
bathing areas of the children's ward.

14. (SBU) WVI also runs a highly successful kindergarten
program at School Number 2 in Voznesenovskaya designed to
prepare IDP children to do well when they start first grade.
Poloff observed a class that had only been going on for a few
weeks in which the youngsters were being taught in Russian,
the language of formal education in public schools in
Ingushetiya. This was the second year of the program and the
head of the school said that in September first grade
teachers squabbled among themselves to be assigned students
who had participated in the initial program last year because
they were better adapted to learning and easier to teach.

15. (SBU) We met with deputy head of Troitskaya Kazbek
Dzhankhotov several kilometers outside of town where IMC had
repaired a water pump that allowed the town's residents a
steady supply of water. Dzhankhotov was extremely
appreciative of our assistance, praised the cooperation with
IMC, and expressed hope the USG would provide more assistance
in Troitskaya. (Note: As a tragic reminder of the violence
which currently plagues Ingushetiya, an unidentified gunman
shot and killed Dzhankhotov on October 16 as he was standing
outside the town's main administrative building. End Note.).


16. (SBU) PRM's small assistance program in Chechnya and
Ingushetiya continues to make a meaningful contribution to
improving the lives of displaced persons there and is
appreciated by both the beneficiaries and those government
officials who see how it makes a difference. The assistance,
especially basic shelter reconstruction, has changed the
lives of the beneficiaries and their families and put the
U.S. in a positive light. Unfortunately, the security
situation in Chechnya and Ingushetiya has meant that there
has been little publicity for some of these PRM-funded
projects. In the next year the costs of providing the
assistance we have been giving in both Chechnya and
Ingushetiya will increase as prices for construction
materials go up and as our implementing partners take
additional security measures to protect their staff. Federal
and local government leaders appear less interested in
solving these most difficult remaining cases than spending
money on newer projects like holding the 2014 Sochi Winter
Olympics, rebuilding South Ossetia, and constructing the
largest mosque in Europe in memory of an assassinated father.
While it is easy to note these excesses and point fingers at
this lack of leadership, in the end it is the displaced
persons in Chechnya and Ingushetiya who will continue to

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